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When I first listened to this album I thought that it was a good album but the more I listened to it, the more I took the time to discover it attentively, the more I realized that this is somewhat the underrated gem in the discography of the most important progressive metal band of all times. This album is a truly progressive album and has something of a modern version of a classical symphony. A Beethoven or Wagner could not have created something more epic and diversified than Dream Theater create not only in the outstanding title track but also in some parts of the other parts that do not have the same level of “epic sound” and greatness but that are brilliantly executed and at least very good too.
"The glass prison" is the first part of another famous epic masterpiece of Dream Theater, the twelve-step suite. This modern, surprisingly fast and heavy song is one of the best parts of this epic conceptual track that would be followed by four other tracks on the next albums. The sound effects are very interesting and progressive and especially the keyboards do a certainly great job here. The only problem with this song is that it gets somewhat lost in its own heaviness and lacks of creating a melodic chorus, a truly catchy riff or other memorable moments. That's why this song is good or at some point even very good. But it isn’t an outstanding one. But as I said, it is a promising and highly entertaining beginning of a new saga.
The second track "Blind faith" is smoother than the opener and surprises with a very atmospheric and relaxing introduction. Especially the keyboards do once again an outstanding job on this track and create exotic folk sounds. Sadly, this calm song goes somehow nowhere after a very promising beginning and lacks of a catchy or epic chorus or some surprising breaks. The intro and outro are great but the middle part is only of an average quality and somewhat boring and that's why this track is the weakest one on the whole record.
The third song is called "Misunderstood" and is a sleepy, smooth and soft ballad that surprises with a weird guitar technique where a solo is reversed and creates a very eerie and addicting effect. Another strong point is once again the keyboard work and one must admit that this album is probably Jordan Rudess' masterpiece. All in all, this calm track is a song that grows more and more as time goes by even though it could maybe have been cut down a little bit and has a couple of lengths.
"The great debate" is a conceptual song with highly interesting lyrics. It starts with a very progressive intro where a debate is hold and different sound patterns and collages from speeches and interviews are included. The song surprises with a stunning drumming by Mike Portnoy who is delivering an amazing job. The once again great keyboard effects and strange vocal effects give this song a somewhat modern, progressive and apocalyptical touch and surprise us again and again. That's why this song is able to maintain the tension and be highly interesting until the very end.
The last song from the first disc is called "Disappear" and is a calm track with a somewhat eerie atmosphere because of a very spacey intro and an as amazing outro. The keyboards once again carry this song as well as the very touching lyrics. The monotone and repeating middle part fits to the sensitive and sad topic and I wouldn't see this as a negative point even though this song is obviously not as addicting as the previous one.
And then comes the title track, a masterpiece with a length of forty-two minutes and not one single minute of this symphony is boring or unnecessary. There are so many changes and emotions in this epic song that almost works like a movie or at least as a movie score that it would be way too long to describe everything that happens in the eight different parts of the song. The orchestration is great and almost sounds like if a true orchestra was playing. This shows once again what an amazing job especially Jordan Rudess does on this whole record. The live version on the "Score" album with a true orchestra is even more intense than this one. Lyrics and music perfectly fit together and it is an amazing pleasure to go for a ride on this epic journey and voyage through the highly interesting minds of six degrees of inner turbulence. Each different part of the song has a very special mood that fits to the concerned turbulence and creates images and ideas in our minds. This is like cinema for your ears. If I had to chose one single song to represent the band Dream Theater to someone I would pick this epic track or the easier to listen to first part of "Metropolis" because of its rather short length. This song is maybe the opus magnum of Dream Theater and not just one of many superb epic tracks. If you are a fan of Dream Theater and don't have this album yet, you should correct this lack right now and you surely won't regret to buy this intellectual masterpiece.
To keep it short, you get delivered one unforgettable and outstanding masterpiece, two extremely strong tracks, two good ones and only one weaker track on the whole record. Just the title track is worth buying this album. In my opinion this is one of their best records ever. It grows more and more every time you listen to it and has to be at least in my top five albums of Dream Theater even if I was sceptical in the beginning. So, if you truly admire the band in general, it is simply impossible to dislike this record. And this record may even please to people that are no metal heads but fans of progressive rock, krautrock, classical symphonies or operas. This is a great album for anyone that is able to take its time to listen to and appreciate music. Let me formulate it like this: Glory to the patient ones as they will truly live an adorable experience by listening to this record that slowly becomes one of my favourite ones of Dream Theater.